A recent innovation in the world of musical instruments is the invention of the “roll-up” drum kit. At first read, this sounds hard to grasp. How can you roll-up a drum kit? Well, the answer is quite straightforward.
Roll-up kits are a combination of a soft sheet of rubber with electrical components. The end result is a drum kit which is smaller than anything ever produced before. If you’re not quite ready for a full-blown electronic drum kit, this may be for you.
The rubber area is the playing surface and this is where you will see the drums and cymbals, such as the snare and hi-hats. To the top of this area is where the drum ‘brain’ is located. This is also known as the module. It’s where all the sounds are produced. On most roll-up kits, this is also where the speakers are located.
All in all, roll-up kits weigh far less and are way smaller than traditional electronic drum sets. The average weight of a roll-up drum kit is less than 5 pounds. The unique design of these kits means that they can literally be rolled up for ease of transportation. An entire roll-up kit easily fits within a small carry-all.
Roll-Up drum kits can be played without the aid of any drum sticks. The pads are sensitive enough to play with your hands. That’s two less things to carry!
Roll-Up Kits as a Gift
You may be in the position of considering a purchase for a family member or friend who would like to play drums. In this case a roll-up drum kit could be just the thing.
There is no great commitment required with a roll-up kit. It’s the type of gift that everyone can use.
Drums are a naturally curious instrument for kids and adults alike. Setting up a roll-up kit at a party or family gathering is a sure-fire way to get people to join in.
Roll-up drum kits are not expensive either. They can be purchased for well under $100 online or in music stores.
In this article we will examine a number of roll-up kits and compare their features and build for the price.
PAXCESS Electronic Drum Set Review
The PAXCESS electronic drum set is the lowest price roll-up kit on our list and packs a lot in for the money. To use the PAXCESS you have a choice between headphones or the built in speakers on the drum module. The speakers are on either side of the module. Headphones can be connected using a mini jack connector. This kit has a slick futuristic design. It consists of black with some neon green outlining around the pads.
This drum kit is powered by USB and an internal 2400mAh battery. The PAXCESS boasts up to 10 hours of playing time which is pretty impressive indeed. The USB port is on the rear of the device, along with the power switch, the headphone port, an AUX input and a connector for foot pedals. The standard PAXCESS roll-up kit is available to buy with or without foot pedals. You can also add bass drum pedals to the kit for a bit of extra cash, without breaking the bank.
The AUX input on the rear of the device is ideal for playing along with MP3 players or iPods. You can use the PAXCESS to learn songs for a gig in a confined space, without bothering anybody. The dimensions of the drum kit when fully rolled out are 9 inches at the smallest to 17 inches at the widest. All in all, you can easily set the PAXCESS up in an area less than 2 foot squared.
There are sticks provided with this roll-up kit but they are not of the highest quality. One benefit is that they are quite light and shorter than standard sticks. This means they are lighter to play with on the rubber pads. You may prefer to use your own set of drumsticks here should you already have a set.
There are pads on the PAXCESS for a snare, 3 toms, a crash, a ride, and a hi-hat. If you like you can also purchase the kit with foot pedals for the bass drum. There are also 8 demo songs and 3 rhythms built in to the module to play along with.
Digital Drum Roll-Up Drum Kit Review
Next on the list we have a roll-up drum kit which is similar in design to the PAXCESS. This roll-up kit has many similar features too. There are pads for bass drum, snare, hi-hat, ride, 2 crash cymbals, and 3 toms. That’s two more pads than the PAXCESS.
This drum set works out as the same price as a PAXCESS roll-up kit with pedals. The look of the kit is all black with red. Each pad is clearly marked in red font so you can instantly tell how they are assigned.
This is a portable kit with wireless in mind. Like the PAXCESS, you can charge the kit up with a USB cable and play off the battery for hours. The size when rolled out is approximately 10 inches x 20 inches x 12 inches.
With this roll-up kit you automatically get two pedals thrown into the deal. They can be plugged into the module to allow control of both bass drum and hi-hat. These pedals are simple and functional, with a basic on/off response. There is no touch sensitivity here.
The module itself has a few extras that were missing from the PAXCESS. There is a handy record function so you can listen back to your performances by pressing play. The demo function takes you through a musical demonstration of the sounds on this kit.
You can also select the rhythm and style functions to switch between different backing tracks and kit sounds. There are 3 different drum kit sounds built in. Also on the front of the module are controls for overall volume and tempo. There is a handy light display to show meter readings too. In total there are 9 demo songs and 11 musical accompaniments.
All in all this roll-up kit offers a bit more than the PAXCESS for the money. It’s roughly the same size and weight and comes with a few more pads too.
Want a hardcase for your kit? You can store any roll-up kit in a Tupperware box for added protection when traveling.
Pyle Electronic Roll-Up MIDI Drum Kit Review
This roll-up kit appears to offer the best value so far. Just looking at the specs we can see that it comes with foot pedals as standard. The retail price of the Pyle roll-up kit is not that high and you get a 7 pad setup with several kits and backing tracks.
The Pyle is closer in look to the PAXCESS kit and has the same number of pads. It also has a similar color scheme – black with white, as opposed to the PAXCESS’s neon green. The pads are not labeled like with the previous kit, but they do have different designs to distinguish the cymbals from the drums.
The Pyle can be connected to any Mac or PC for use in home studios. You can use the Pyle roll-up kit as a controller kit alongside any modern DAW. The kit connects through a USB port on the back of the module.
Once connected you will have to enable the Pyle as a MIDI device in your DAW’s preferences. The Pyle will now act as a MIDI drum controller. This allows you to record drum tracks in real time as MIDI. Considering the price of many MIDI controllers, this is a huge benefit.
There are 12 preloaded songs on the Pyle which you can practice along to. These songs range in style from funk to pop and more. You can adjust the volume using the buttons on the front of the drum module.
There are also controls for the tempo, allowing you to either speed up or slow down any of the accompaniment tracks. The start/stop function is fairly self-explanatory and is used to trigger songs on and off.
The Pyle roll-up drum kit allows the user to record performances too. You can lay down beats and fills and store them for use later. This is a convenient way of saving ideas and new grooves.
On the back of the Pyle roll-up kit there is an MP3 mini-jack connector. This jack can be used to insert any audio device from laptops to iPods. Once connected you can stream the audio through the Pyle drum module. This means that if you like to play along with album tracks, or even songs on YouTube, you can do it easily.
Like all roll-up kits, the Pyle electronic drum kit is compatible with headphones. The connection is the same as with the MP3 input – a mini-jack connection. If you prefer to play without headphones, you can avail of the built in Pyle speakers.
They are quite small, but they manage to produce a clear audible sound, which is enough to play along to. If you require more volume, then simply use the headphone output to connect to another audio device. You can connect to anything from a powered monitor to a home stereo to a full live P.A. system.
The Pyle is a great roll-up kit for the money. It’s nicely priced that it can be purchased as a gift too. You won’t get a lot of electronic drum sets at this price so it has its advantages. It’s an ideal Christmas stocking gift for that somebody you know who has ambitions to get into music.
In this article we have looked at the benefits and practicalities of roll-up drum kits. There are lots of advantages to having such a small and portable setup. In this day and age, playing a full size drum kit can be very restrictive. You are limited to areas which have the required space and can put up with high noise levels.
With roll-up kits, a lot of those inconveniences are no longer an issue. You can pretty much set up and play practically anywhere. The space required for a roll-up kit is less than 2 square feet. This is closer to the size of a small coffee table or equivalent.
Of the roll-up kits discussed, the Pyle Electronic Roll-Up MIDI Drum Kit is hard to beat. It has plenty of backing tracks to play with, along with a selection of different drum kits. While the Pyle is no substitute for a high-end electronic drum set, it can still do a job when in the studio too. The fact that they have made this drum kit compatible with so many digital audio workstations means that it will appeal to many users. It’s not just drummers that need a MIDI controller kit – every home recording enthusiast will find a need for one. And the Pyle does just that.
While roll-up kits are no real competition to electronic kits when it comes to professional playing, they do fill a valid gap in the market. There are plenty of budding musicians who would like to dabble in the instrument and a roll-up drum kit can provide the perfect introduction.
If you’re not 100% sold on roll-up drum kits, perhaps consider the Alesis Nitro instead.
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